Are you one of those people who dream about studying abroad in the near future? Do you feel that corporate life is boring? Are you looking for a new adventure? Did something monumental change your life in a snap?
Part 1 of this series will talk about how to study abroad. Specifically, what to look for in a school and/or program. There are many ways to do this and I’ll try to write about my experiences.
These are the 8 vital variables to consider in getting the highest returns from your investment (in no particular order):
- Cost of living: If you choose to study in highly-developed countries, it is very likely that you will pay top dollar to be able to live comfortably. It is also very likely that the best schools are located in these countries. In Japan, the top expenses for me are the ff: food, telecommunications, rent, transportation, electricity, and health insurance.
- Faculty: Of course, you would want to learn from the best professors! Professors will not only help you see things from a different perspective but can open up a lot of unique opportunities. Try to look for professors with: excellent research and/or publications, awards, large professional networks, stellar academic/practical experience.
- Language: On a forward-looking POV, language can be an important factor when job seeking. Most of the schools around the world hold postgraduate programs in English. Great! But, what comes after studying is a different thing for most parts of the world. Making friends with locals and job-hunting entails you to talk in their native language. If you have no problems adding a new language to your arsenal, then this should be easy for you.
- Economy: Economies at the top of the scale will most likely give you the best academic and career opportunities. Top professors and companies are usually located in such economies. As a student, you would want these two within an arm’s reach.
- Ranking: Rankings play a tricky role in the world of academics and careers. A lot of variables move in here so it’s best to judge this on your own. Generally, the top-ranked schools are the most expensive and demand the highest academic achievements from applicants.
- Program/Curriculum: Get something that you find interesting and something that is not offered in your home country. Sure you can study abroad in your dream school but end up unhappy. I have browsed though a long list of school curricula and found out that most converge towards the same narrow path of developing just another postgrad. Do you seriously want to end up like that?
- Scholarships and Financial Aid: Almost all universities abroad offer financial aid. These may come in the form of full-ride scholarships (the holy grail), partial scholarships, research grants, student loans, etc. In a latter part, I shall try to focus on this and help you become one!
- School: This will be your home away from home for about 1-2 years. With that in mind, you would need a school with a great reputation, tradition, and all the right facilities. A great library is very important since you’ll be studying a lot. Nice Lecture/Presentation Halls will help you listen and present more effectively. A Gym will keep you in shape. The list goes on and on. Make sure you inspect the campus facilties as much as possible physically (if budget permits) or through the school website. Established universities are usually good places to start.
Hope this helps!
Stay tuned for more tips!